Some landlords neglect to carry out proper inspections and record detailed inventories. However, they are essential responsibilities that protect both you and the tenant.
Inventories and check-in and check-out inspections are essential to being a responsible landlord of rental properties. This article explains what Knightsbridge and Marble Arch landlords need to know regarding drawing up an inventory report and the check-in/check-out inspections.
What is a landlord inventory?
An inventory is a complete list of every item within a property, including notes of the condition of every item stated. A good inventory report is often supported by photographs.
An inventory check should cover the following:
- Fixtures and fittings
- Floor coverings
- Garages and sheds
- Kitchen and bathroom units and appliances
- Walls and ceilings, including paint colours
- Windows and doors
An inventory helps to minimise the potential for disputes between the landlord and tenant at the end of the tenancy. Without an inventory, a landlord will find it difficult, or impossible, to prove that some items are missing or that the property has been altered or damaged when the tenant moves out.
This makes it hard to claim financial payment from the tenant by withholding some of the money held on deposit. An inventory also helps a tenant know their rights and entitlements.
The inventory process
The following steps cover all the essential tasks involved in the inventory process:
1. Prepare your landlord inventory template
Create or download a free property inventory template that includes all the contents and details of the property's condition. Take photos and videos that will provide evidence of the state of the property. You can download free landlord property inventory templates from several websites.
2. Review the inventory with your tenant
You must review the inventory with your tenant to ensure they understand and agree with the details within the inventory. Typically, this will be done on moving-in day, but leaving the inventory template with the tenant and asking them to review and sign it within a week is possible.
3. Flag issues
Following the review of the inventory template, any issues flagged can be worked through, and the required updates can be made to the inventory template.
4. Sign off the inventory
Both the landlord and the tenant must sign the inventory to show agreement, and the landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the inventory.
5. Property inspections during the tenancy
Throughout the tenancy, the landlord is entitled to inspect the property to check the condition. An inspection clause should be included within the tenancy agreement, including the frequency of inspections.
When seeking to enter the property for an inspection, you must follow the regulations and respect your tenant's legal right to 'quiet enjoyment' by:
- Seeking written permission.
- Giving advance notice to tenants at least 24 hours prior (except in an emergency).
- Requesting to visit the property at a reasonable time of the day.
What to check at a property inspection:
We recommend checking the following by cross-referencing against the original inventory report and highlighting any differences:
- Damp and mould: Damp and mould can be dangerous and is easily overlooked. It is also easier to deal with dampness and mould if you spot the problem early. Check around windows and sinks and pay particular attention to moisture-prone rooms, such as the kitchen and bathrooms. Make sure that any extractor fans are working. Read our article 'Damp and Mould in Rented Property' for more information.
- Leaks: Run all the taps and check for leaks. Also, check the drains to make sure they are not blocked.
- Fixtures and fittings: Give any items you have provided a once over to check they are in good working order.
- The garden: If the tenancy agreement specifies that it is the tenant's responsibility to maintain the garden, then make sure it is neat and not overgrown. You should also check the condition of any sheds or outhouses.
- The loft: In most cases, your tenant will not pay attention to the loft, so it's worth having a quick look to check for holes, leaks or signs of rodents.
- Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms: The landlord must ensure that all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms work at the start of the tenancy. It is the tenant's responsibility to check they are still working throughout the tenancy.
Landlords should create a report at the end of the inspection that they can send to tenants and keep on file, as proof that they are complying with their responsibilities as a landlord.
6. End of tenancy checks
When the tenancy is coming to an end, the landlord should request two end of tenancy checks. To comply with regulations, landlords or letting agents should give tenants at least 24 hours' notice but ideally two weeks' notice of the date of the check-out inventory, which must be at a reasonable time of the day.
It is a good idea to arrange the first check a month before the end of the tenancy to ensure any property condition issues can be flagged and resolved so that the tenant can avoid losing some of their deposit.
A comprehensive tenancy check should be carried out on the final day before transferring the tenancy deposit. The landlord can use the inventory and any photos or videos to check the differences in property condition.
This helps determine any damage your tenants may have caused from not maintaining the property per the tenancy agreement. In this case, you would need to deduct fees from their tenancy deposit.
What is the difference between damage and wear and tear?
There is a significant difference between fair wear and tear and damage. Fair wear and tear includes any reasonable wear that has occurred. For example, carpets will wear over time, and the tenant is not responsible for replacing them. However, if the carpet has been stained, the tenant would be liable for paying for repair or replacement.
What happens if items have been damaged?
If items have been damaged, both parties should discuss the issues to try and reach an agreement for the repairs to be paid for. If the landlord and tenant cannot agree on the plans for repairs/replacements, arbitration is provided by the tenancy deposit scheme. If the cost of the repairs amounts to more than the deposit, an invoice itemising the repairs should be sent to the tenant.
Are inventories needed for an unfurnished property?
Some landlords believe that if their property is not fully furnished, they do not need an inventory. This is a grave mistake to make. An inventory should record the condition of the garden, the condition of the internal walls and the cleanliness of the property at the beginning of the tenancy, as well as the fixtures and fittings.
Consider hiring a professional
You can save yourself a great deal of hassle by hiring a professional to do the inventory on your behalf. You can instruct a specialist third-party independent inventory clerk. The advantage of this is that they are impartial. Alternatively, a letting agent can do it as part of their services. It is essential to check that they actually visit the property and provide you with a detailed report afterwards.
When new tenants check in to the property, it's a good idea to point out that you or your letting agent will be visiting regularly for inspections, and any damage they cause will affect their deposit.
All tenants have the right to "quiet enjoyment" of their home, which means that you or the agent must seek permission by giving 24 hours notice, and the inspection must be at a reasonable time.
As letting agents, we can assist with drawing up inventories and conducting periodic inspections to ensure a smooth-running tenancy. For more information and help with any aspect of property rental, contact us today.